An editorial from the American Heart Association has discussed the long-term effects of napping on the cardiovascular health.
There has been a lot of conflicting and mixed evidence regarding the effects of napping on the heart’s health. For example, a 198 study of the Greek cohort found that risk of coronary heart diseases was lower among people who napped compared to those who did not. Another larger study of the Greek cohort has confirmed these results. This study found that risk of coronary heart diseases reduced by 37% in people who napped regularly compared to those who did not. Studies carried out with other cohorts such as the U.S., Costa Rica, Japan, and Germany found similar evidence.
A research published in 2019 in the Heart journal investigated whether frequency of naps could explain the mixed evidence on this topic as frequency of naps has not been explored sufficiently in the past. The research evaluated data of over 3000 people with medical history of cardiovascular disease for over half a decade. All the participants had described their napping pattern during a week. 155 fatal cardiovascular events as non-fatal events occurred after the follow-up. The analysis of the data too into account excessive sleepiness during the day which could be resulting from a sleep disorder, or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The team also considered factors such as age, physical activity levels, risk factors of heart disease, sleep duration, and others which were not considered in previous studies.
The results showed that participants who napped 1 to 2 times in a week were 48% less likely to suffer cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attacks, and heart failure following a 5-year follow up compared to participants who did not nap. These benefits were not observed in those who napped more than 6 times per week. Moreover, duration of sleep did not make any difference in the study.